Hyrule Warriors

0 3.5 out of 5 stars
Omega Force, Team Ninja
Wii U
Release Date:
Sept. 25, 2014

So technically, yes, Hyrule Warriors is a Legend of Zelda game. But that's not even the most important caveat before entry. The most important thing you should be asking your self is: "Did I enjoy Dynasty Warriors?"

Because that's what you're going to be playing. A Dynasty Warriors title dressed like a Legend of Zelda title, not that this is a terrible thing. Just as long as we all know from the outset that Hyrule Warriors is the product of two studios with very visible fingerprints all over it. Team Ninja, the folks responsible for Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, and Omega Force, the team behind the Dynasty Warriors series. The latter of which is evident in nearly every surface of Hyrule Warriors. 

Remember all of the puzzles that have come to define nearly every Zelda title? You know the ones. They sometimes succeed in making you feel like you peaked as a freshman in college and all the alcohol intake since then has done more damage than you'd care to admit. Well, lucky for you, all that gin softening your cerebral cortex over the past decade won't be too much of a hindrance as Hyrule Warriors has zero puzzles. Instead, you'll be enjoying the sort of mindless hacking and slashing normally at home in, you guessed it, Dynasty Warriors. And that's not a bad thing, you just need to know that your pre-reptile, lizard brain will be doing most of the driving here. If you're looking for any deep investment of the last three decades of Zelda mythology, you're not going to be getting much further than surface level.

Hyrule Warriors' narrative is there, but really once you're given your marching orders to slay the endless hordes of Hyrule, all the rest of it falls away in the swinging arc of the Master Sword. Evil is threatening the Kingdom of Hyrule and you're the only one that can save us all. Once we've established that bit of window dressing, the parallels to past Zelda titles are largely cosmetic. Locations, characters, and passing nods to titles of days-gone-by are introduced and shuffled away as quickly as they arrived. Each character has two base attacks to modify with combos, magic attacks, and a more effective ultimate assault. Anyone with a passing familiarity of Dynasty Warriors will immediately be at home with the simplified control scheme. 

Combat may seem monotonous at times, but there's something to be said for eviscerating a mob of 40 enemies at once in a cartoon geyser of bloodless carnage.

Each level is a battlefield laid out with a smattering of strongholds, cramped enclaves crammed with enemies that must be won over for the glory of Hyrule. Easy enough. You've got a base of your own that will need to be protected and if it falls, you've lost the battle and its game over. Enemy keeps must be defeated while the ally keep remains protected and outside of that that's where the strategy stops. It's all just barely contained battlefield mayhem after that. And speaking of those battlefields, mixed in with all of the cannon fodder, you'll occasionally be tasked with clearing a lumbering final boss.  

These bosses will usually require some sort of Zelda mainstay to ensure success. Bombs, boomerangs, and arrows all make a requisite appearance during these exchanges. A crafting system is in place, but it's not enough of draw to sometimes merit the challenges for an increased boost in stats. Free Mode and Adventure Mode are where your crafting materials will be farmed. Hyrule Warriors functions best when you fully embrace it as a brawler that just happens to be gussied up as a Zelda title. It's brainless fun with the occasional moments of lucidity that take the form of: 'huh, Princess Zelda is kind of a badass.' 

As long as you're fine with this being a Zelda title in appearance only, Hyrule Warriors is a beautifully crafted little outing that will round out any Wii U library.